Little Fluffy Clouds

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Another day, another loaf. Or two.

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Aquilegia or columbine. It’s in our garden here – but it is a British wildflower.

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Song thrush.

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The beech circle.

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Middlebarrow Quarry – or The Lost World. ‘Every time I see it, I expect to see dinosaurs’, B tells me. I know what he means.

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Middlebarrow aerial shelduck display team.

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“Keep the formation tight as we come in to land.”

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“Quick breather, squadron, and we’re off again.”

Of course, having seen a peregrine once, I now keep going back to peer over the lip into the vast quarry at Middlebarrow expecting lightening to strike twice. It hasn’t. I do keep seeing the close formation aerial skills of the shelducks though. Lord knows why they feel compelled to circuit the quarry so obsessively.

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This small plaque is on a house near home. I’m sure I’ve posted a picture of it before. But now I’ve learned that it’s a fire insurance sign – showing which insurance company the house was registered with. It seems more like something you might expect to see in a more urban location, but maybe this is an antique which has been added since the signs were rendered obsolete by the inception of a national fire service? The house is very close to our small fire station, which is manned by retained fire fighters, so they should be okay if the worst happens.

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The Bay from The Cove.

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Ransoms flowering in the small copse above the Cove. 

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Orchids on the Lots.

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Green-winged orchid.

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Early purple orchid.

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Water avens.

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Bugle.

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Orange-tip butterfly on cuckoo-flower.

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A bedraggled peacock butterfly.

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Gooseberry flowers. I think.

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Lambert’s meadow.

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The skies above Eaves Wood.

It annoys me, more than it should, that I can never remember the names given to the various types of clouds. All sorts of stupid trivia is securely lodged in my brain, but even though I’ve read a couple of books on the subject, clouds just don’t seem to want to stick. I thought that if I tried to label the clouds in my photos, maybe I would start to remember a few at least. The fluffy white ones above Eaves Wood here are cumulus, right? Although, maybe some stratocumulus behind.

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And I assume these wispy ones are cirrus.

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And this is maybe cirrocumulus.

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But then….? Altocumulus and cirrus?

Hmmm. More effort required, I think.

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Oak tree in full summer garb.

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Full-throated robin.


Bit obvious I know. But good.

And, completely unrelated, as far as I know…

…the opening track from one of my favourite albums, which I was introduced to by THO, who often comments here, and which I shall always associate with a superb holiday which was split, quixotically, between the French Alps and the Brittany coast.

Little Fluffy Clouds

A Man Of No Convictions

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We imagine that as soon as we are thrown out of our customary ruts all is over, but it is only then that the new and the good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is a great deal, a great deal before us.

This is Pierre, in ‘War and Piece’ talking about his incarceration following the sack of Moscow. Seemed apposite somehow.

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Arnside Knott from near Know Point. I’d walked across the sands from Park Point – something I’d been thinking of doing for a few days beforehand.

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Female chaffinch.

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Roe Deer Buck in Eaves Wood – one of a pair I encountered.

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Late sun on Silverdale and the Bowland hills.

A man of no convictions, no habits, no traditions, no name…emerges – by what seems the strangest freak of chance – from among all the seething parties…is borne forward to a prominent position. The incompetence of his colleagues, the weakness and inanity of his rivals, the frankness of his falsehoods and his brilliant and self-confident mediocrity raise him…his childish insolence and conceit secure him …glory. He more than once finds himself on the brink of disaster and each time is saved in some unexpected manner.

He has no plan of any kind; he is afraid of everything; but the parties hold out their hands to him and insist on his participation.

He alone, his insane self-adulation, his insolence in crime and frankness in lying – he alone can justify what has to be done.

He is needed for the place that awaits him and so, almost apart from his own volition and in spite of his indecision, his lack of plan and all the blunders he makes, he is drawn into a conspiracy that aims at seizing power, and the conspiracy is crowned with success.

Do you have a clear picture? Can you guess who the passage describes? Yes – you have it – it’s Napoleon. In Tolstoy’s words. I’ve edited out all of the specific references to times and places which would give the game away. I can’t help thinking that this might fit quite a few leaders past and present. There’s a great deal more of this in ‘War and Peace’; I think it’s fair to say that Tolstoy did not hold Napoleon in high regard.


A Man Of No Convictions

Cantering and Moulting

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It hasn’t all been blue skies and sunshine. The day following my sunny walk by the Kent channel was very grey and overcast. I was out on the sands again, but this time heading in the opposite direction, round to Jenny Brown’s Point.

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I think you could probably count the number of times I’ve ridden a horse on the fingers of one finger, but I have to confess to feeling slightly jealous every time I see this lady on her horse cantering across the sands.

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It looks pretty exhilarating. All that space to gallop!

We know from our visits to Roa Island that many species of crab can be found in the bay, but we only ever see shore crabs closer to home and even those very rarely.

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Walk along the tideline, however, and you will see any number of discarded shells. A crab’s exoskeleton doesn’t grow, so in order for a crab to grow it must moult and that means everything, not just the main carapace, but legs, claws, mandibles, the lot.

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The land reclamation wall.

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The old wharf.

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Little egret.

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Cowslips

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Early purple orchids.

I came back by Clark’s and Sharp’s Lots a small National Trust property, where there was a good display of spring flowers.


Cantering and Moulting

The Bay and the Kent.

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Gratuitous picture of homemade bread. Made with malted bread flour because that was all I managed to buy, and lucky to get that I think. I’ve decided that I prefer bread with at least some malted flour in it.

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Looking back to Silverdale.

A sunny but windy day: on the sands it was cool; in the trees, with a little shelter, quite warm.

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The long ridge of Heathwaite and Arnside Knott.

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Know point and Clougha Pike beyond. I was following the tide line, but in the opposite direction.

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The channel and Humphrey Head beyond.

I felt sure that, the water levels having dropped due to the prolonged dry weather, I would be able to find a place to cross the stream, but it was always a little bit too wide and a bit too deep for me to even contemplate trying.

So I followed it back towards the shore and Arnside Knott…

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When I reached the shore I discovered the source of the water, a deceptively small spring…

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…carving its way through the sand. Not sure how I missed it before.

I noticed the where the sands had been dry for the longest, on the highest ground, it had begun to acquire a greyish crust…

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I followed the thin strip of sand between the cliffs and the channel again, heading for Park Point. The dropping water level had exposed a muddy island in the channel which was popular with red shanks…

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Rounding Park Point.

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A dog whelk shell?

On my previous wander this way I had watched a runner make a beeline for Grange. At the moment, the River Kent swings away from the Arnside shore and curves seemingly almost to Grange. I didn’t want to go quite that far, but I set off from Park Point towards the river, weaving a little to check out any obvious shapes on the sand, which usually turned out to be driftwood…

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Looking back to Park Point.

I haven’t been out into this part of the estuary before and, although more enclosed than the bay itself, I was surprised by how vast it felt…

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Eventually, I reached a slight dip, beyond which the going looked very wet and muddy…

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River Kent and Meathop Fell.

I turned and followed the edge towards Arnside…

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A skeletal flounder perhaps – know locally as fluke?

I’d originally intended to return home via the Knott, but I’d spent so long on the sands that it was now getting on in the afternoon and I wanted to get home to cook tea. I thought I knew a spot where I could access the cliff-top path and was very chuffed to hit the right place, where a break in the cliffs gives access, at the first attempt.

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The shingle beach at White Creek, much like the one at the Cove, is still liberally covered with the flotsam washed up by this winter’s Atlantic storms.

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Peacock butterfly.

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Pied wagtail.

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White Creek.

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I think that these are emerging leaves of lily-of-the-valley.

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Having followed the cliffs for a while, I dropped back down to the beach and returned to the village on the sands again.

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Another dead flatfish. I’ve often wondered how they cope with the huge tidal range in the bay. I know that a lot of them end up in the river channel, because I’ve watched people fishing for them barefoot at Arnside. There are some many fish that it’s efficient to plodge about until you stand on a fish, then you simply bend over and grab them and chuck them to an accomplice on the river bank.

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Approaching the Cove.


The Bay and the Kent.

The Sands and The Knott

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The Cove.

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Looking back to the Cove.

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Heathwaite and Arnside Knott.

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Aiming for Humphrey Head.

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Following an old tide-line.

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Cockle shell.

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Common otter shells.

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Tellin.

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In a variety of hues.

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There was plenty of evidence of shelduck. Not only footprints!

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I followed the edge of the channel in again, but this time, hitting land, I took the steep path up to Heathwaite.

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Spring cinquefoil – I assumed I was seeing good old ubiquitous tormentil, but when I looked at the photo I realised that the flower has five petals not four. And then I discovered that tormentil doesn’t flower till June. So – not a rare flower, but new to me, so I’m chuffed.

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New oak leaves.

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought, since a comment from Conrad, about where the best viewpoints in the area are located, which is a very pleasant thing to ponder whilst out aimlessly wandering. The spot this photo was taken from, at the top of the shilla slope on Arnside Knott, would rank high on my list.

It was very hazy on this day, but there’s a good view of the Bay, of the Forest of Bowland, and over Silverdale Moss…

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…to Ingleborough, which you’ll be able to pick out if you are using a large screen. (You can click on the photo to see a zoomable version on flickr)

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Wood sorrel.

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Chaffinch.

I took lots of bird photos on this walk, but they were almost all of them blurred, or photos of where a bird had just been perched. A couple of nuthatches were particular offenders in that regard.

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A very hazy view towards the Lakes.

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Song thrush.

This thrush, unlike most of the birds I’d seen, was very comfortable with my presence and happily hopped about catching small wriggling mouthfuls in the grass.  Absolutely charming to watch.


Now, why would you cover an Otis Redding song? Seems to me you are on a hiding to nothing. But, it happens. A lot. So what do I know?

And having said that, I think Toots and the Maytals do a pretty fair job…

..I am a big fan of the Maytals though. Their version of ‘Country Roads’ is superb. And their own ‘Funky Kingston’ is one of my favourite tunes. There are lots of other covers, by the Grateful Dead, the Black Crowes, Tom Jones for example.

This is not a cover…

…apparently? It has different words and a new title, but I can’t help feeling that it sounds a little familiar?

The Sands and The Knott

Exhale.

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I think that this is a female orang-tip, but white butterflies are almost as tricky little brown birds. (Not as awkward as yellow dandelion like flowers however!)

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White tail, three bands of yellow – I think that this might be a garden bumblebee (bombus hortorum) which would be entirely appropriate because it was in our garden when I photographed it.

A and I walked around Know Point on the sands.

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We spotted a spring issuing from the base of the cliff…

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…I’ve realised that all of the channels on the Bay close to the shore, some of them quite wide and deep in places, are fed by deceptively small springs like this.

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We ran out of sand and had to clamber up the rocks…

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..and down again to Cow’s Mouth…

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I’d quite forgotten about the little cave there…

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As we rounded the corner towards Jack Scout, the tide came racing in…

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Fortunately for us it’s an easy scramble up the rocks and into Jack Scout.

I spotted this in Fleagarth Wood….

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These little painted stones seem to be everywhere. I know this idea predated the lockdown, but present circumstances  seem to have given the craze new impetus. I thoroughly approve. Especially when they are as skilfully rendered as this.

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Ramsons in Fleagarth Wood – almost in flower.

Now that I have ‘finished’ ‘War and Peace’, I wanted to read something completely different. I’ve actually started several books, but some have fallen by the wayside and two have emerged as joint ‘winners’. The first is ‘A Pelican at Blandings’, which, now I’m well into it, I realise I have read before. It doesn’t matter. I love P.G.Wodehouse and particularly the Blandings novels. I haven’t read them all, but I have read several, some of them repeatedly. The plots are much the same every time, it’s the manner of the telling  which is important and, as ever, this one is making me smile (again).

The other book is ‘The Age of Absurdity’ by Michael Foley. Its superbly written and so densely packed with ideas that I’m beginning to feel like I should be reading it very slowly with pencil in hand to underline passages and scribble notes in the margins. I was feeling very smug, reading a chapter about the elevation of shopping to an end in itself rather than a means to an end, when I came across…

My own compulsion is buying books…in the hope of acquiring secret esoteric knowledge….I have increasing numbers of unread purchases. A new book retains its lustre of potential for about six weeks and then changes from being a possible bearer of secret lore into a liability, a reproach, a source of embarrassment and shame.

Oh dear. That’s me. We’re surrounded by tottering heaps of my compulsively purchased secondhand tombs.

Still, both ‘War and Peace’ and ‘The Age of Absurdity’ have been rescued from those stacks, so there’s hope for the other neglected volumes yet.

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Tunes. First, ‘Grandma’s Hands’ a great Bill Withers song you may not know:

Then Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’, built around a sample from Mr Withers

Finally, the marvellous Hackney Colliery Band’s cover of same:

 

All very different. All brilliant.

Exhale.

Too Far?

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Notices like this went up around the village in the early days of the virus. With the twenty-twenty vision which hindsight provides, and in light of the clarification subsequently issued to police forces, it’s easy to see that the notice is not entirely correct. But it’s not my intention to criticise: the Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Watch were simply doing their best to interpret instructions which were clear in their intent but completely lacking in detail. To some extent, we’ve all had to make our own decisions about exactly what constitutes ‘staying at home’, when, in fact, we don’t actually have to stay at home all the time.

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Whelk Eggs.

Apparently, my Dad tells me, one of my second cousins was stopped by the police, only this week, and told that cycling isn’t exercise and that he should go home.

It’s not only the police who have at times been over-zealous however, and there seems to be quite an inclination, in conversation and online, to find fault with other people’s choices. Usually, online at least, swiftly followed by a second wave of condemnation heaped on the whoever dared to criticise and so on.

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The ‘other’ Holgates caravan park at Far Arnside – it looks far bigger from the Bay than it does when you walk through it.

There’s been quite a bit of discussion, in local Faceache forums, about whether it’s acceptable or not to cross Parish Boundaries whilst exercising. Some of it, it’s fair to say, was tongue-in-cheek, but I think it at least echoed the kind of conversations many people have been having.

So, it’s possible that on this walk, and I suppose on a handful of others, I went a little too far?

Initially I walked out into the bay until some dark lines off to my right attracted my attention and I turned in that direction. They turned out to be the far bank of a broad channel…

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Morecambe Bay – the tiny dots on the horizon are Heysham Nuclear Power Plant.

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I turned and followed the edge of the channel back towards the shore north of Far Arnside.

Eventually, I was forced to deviate somewhat in order to cross a meandering side-stream..

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Shelducks and Mallards. Grange-over-Sands promenade behind.

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Closer to shore the channel held a lot more water and was evidently quite deep.

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The bank was crumbling and clearly unstable.

Although the channel eventually ran quite close to the cliffs, it was still possible to keep following it round towards Arnside.

I was a bit nonplussed when I rounded Park Point and saw that the channel simply petered out…

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From this point there’s always a view of part of the Eastern Fells of the Lakes. You’ll struggle to see it in the photo above, but I thought I could pick out some remnants of snow up there. Fortunately, with the magic of the superzoom….

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I could confirm my suspicion.

I keep changing my mind about which hills are visible from Park Point, but my current thinking is that this looks like a view of Fairfield and the western half of the horseshoe.

Just around the point, I was struck by the sudden profusion of shells…

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Cockle shell.

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Mussel shell.

I assume that it’s to do with how the tides flow around the point, perhaps creating eddies or a lull and hence causing shells carried by the currents to be deposited.

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I followed the estuary up towards Arnside.

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Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

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A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers.

Not a great photo, I know. They were on the far side of the river. But I’m never entirely confident about the difference between Mergansers and Goosanders, so I’m hoping that, if I make some brief notes here, then the details might stick for future reference. That often seems to work.

The male Merganser, on the right, has a wispy crest, a white neck-band and an orange-brown breast. The female is quite dark, with no clear delineation between the plumage on her head and neck.

Here’s a pair of Goosanders which I watched as they fished just a little further upriver.

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The male doesn’t have the crest, has a white breast and far more white generally. The female has a very obvious dividing line between the colours of her neck and head.

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Lesser Black-backed Gull, who was every bit as interested in the Goosanders as I was. Whilst I’m making notes – the yellow legs distinguish this from  a Great Black-backed Gull.

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Female Goosander.

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Male Goosander.

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Pigeon.

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Scurvy-grass. Packed with vitamin C apparently.

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Train crossing the viaduct – I couldn’t tell whether it had any passengers or not.

In Arnside I stuck to the edge of the estuary, rather than walking along the Prom. I couldn’t avoid a short road-walk and passing through the railway station however and if I transgressed then I suppose this is where, not that I was ever closer than the stipulated two metres away from any residents of Arnside.

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It looked like the old bridge had been closed off for repairs and replaced with a temporary, scaffolding bridge…

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Which was high enough to give a good view along the Kent Estuary…

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I walked along the old rail embankment which borders the estuary here, eventually turning off to cross Arnside Moss and then follow Black Dyke and the railway line back towards Eaves Wood.

In the fields by Black Dyke which were flooded for several weeks in the winter, there was a fair assembly of Shelduck, Lapwings, Canada geese, Greylag geese, and Herons, almost as if all of these waterfowl were loyal to the erstwhile lake even now that it had drained away.

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Hart’s Tongue Fern.

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New leaves emerging.

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Willow catkins – with, I think, a honey bee, thoroughly dusted in yellow pollen.

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Ginger thorax, black abdomen, white tail: a Tree Bumblebee. A species which is a comparatively recent arrival in Britain.

I’d been thinking that it was about time that I saw some Coltsfoot flowering, and sure enough, there it was beneath the willows.

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A different willow catkin, or possibly the same species at an earlier stage – but I’m inclined to the former. Willows are a tad confusing.

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A section of Eaves Wood, where most of the trees had been felled, was resplendent with Primroses, which is, I think, exactly the point – flowers of this sort, which seem to prefer open woodland, violets, primroses etc are important food-plants for various butterflies, some of them rare.

And so, a tune: it has to be Little Richard. A has been practising a dance to ‘Long Tall Sally’ and who can resist that? Or ‘Tutti Frutti’ and it’s opening ‘a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom’, a vocalisation, apparently, of the driving drum beat which Richard wanted for the song. However, I’ve gone for something a bit less obvious, which you might not have heard before, Freedom Blues:

Too Far?